With the new year here, there will be some extraordinary shifts in how people watch their favorite TV programs, how they surf the Internet and how our daily gadgets will become more interconnected. While our lives are becoming easier, the new technology shift requires an increasing sensitivity towards online security.
NordVPN (www.nordvpn.com), a VPN service provider, predicts some of the major shifts and trends in digital and online security world in 2016:
° Streaming over downloading. There will be more streaming options in 2016 and better access to content compared to downloading options that are becoming less popular. Streaming is becoming border-free as well, as there are new ways to overcome geographical restrictions.

SmartPlay, for example, is NordVPN’s new secure technology that helps overcome geo-based restrictions used by certain streaming websites, such as Netflix, Pandora, BBC iPlayer and others. SmartPlay simply re-routes user’s requests through a server located at a place where access to such blocked websites is allowed. This makes the restricted websites think that the user is physically located in such place, thereby granting access to its content.

° Rise of VPNs (Virtual Private Networks). In 2016, more Internet consumers than ever will be demanding online privacy as ISPs, Telcos and ad companies are inventing more sophisticated ways to track user behavior online, and governments of various countries have passed mass surveillance laws (CISA in the U.S., Data Retention law in Australia or government surveillance in Germany).

After Australian Data Retention law passed in May of 2015, the use of VPNs grew by up to 500%. Similar numbers are expected for the U.S. in 2016 after CISA was signed into law in December of 2015 by the U.S. President. NordVPN says it doesn’t keep customer logs.

° The rise of private online networks. Tor is currently the most popular alternative to Google, Yahoo and other major search engines that keeps browsing information private and confidential, making it preferred tool for those looking to stay private online (journalists, dissidents, everyday Internet users). Swiss and British researchers are developing HORNET, a new generation private high-speed network that could be deployed on routers as part of the Internet. MIT is also working on a Tor alternative.

° Ad and tracker blockers. EFF (Electronic Frontier Foundation) has launched Privacy Badger that blocks spying ads and invisible trackers. EFF aims to be adopted by mainstream browsers to give users maximum control over who can see their online activity. Privacy Badger and similar tools will see a rising number of users in 2016.

° Rising number of private messenger users. Signal, developed by Open Whisper Systems, is a free and open source private messenger for iPhone – now also for Android – that employs end-to-end encryption, allowing private conversations with Signal users on iPhone or Android. Glowing endorsements by privacy advocates like Edward Snowden is making it an ever-popular tool. Signal is available to download through Google Play Store.

° Large investments in cyber security and encryption solutions by corporations. In 2016 more banks, insurers and credit-rating firms will enhance their security measures as a response to high-scale hacking scandals that are growing in frequency and scale. As big data becomes more mainstream, so are big data hackings. 

° IoT (Internet of Things) security. The growing network of inter-connected devices is starting to make our lives very comfortable and easy (saving energy and water, monitoring our health, feeding pets or ordering our dinner) but more vulnerable at the same time. With IoT, where everyone’s functions will rely on a network of communicating devices, privacy issues will take another shape completely. Users will start to get more concerned about their online privacy in 2016 and more educated about simple measures they can take: changing passwords, deleting cookies, using private browsers and VPNs.